Monday, May 23, 2016

The Example of Stephen A. Douglas

Gerard N. Magliocca

While Donald Trump continues to use the bully pulpit as a pulpit to bully, Mitt Romney is getting pressure to enter the race as a third-party candidate.  Conservatives in the "Never Trump" camp are realizing that Romney (despite his flaws) is the only person with the money and connections to mount a serious campaign.  I hope he does.

Consider the example of Stephen A. Douglas.  Douglas was a scoundrel for much of his career.  He defended slavery, and his foolish push for the Kansas-Nebraska Act was in part done to improve his presidential prospects.  In 1860 he won the most votes at the Democratic National Convention, but southerners refused to vote for him and the convention broke up without picking anyone. How did Douglas respond?  By running for President as a Northern Democrat.  He had no hope of winning and essentially handed Lincoln the election by dividing the Democratic vote, but he felt that a southern victory was even worse. Indeed, Douglas felt so strongly about this that he broke with tradition and personally campaigned (often getting heckled in the process). After he lost, he supported Lincoln's policies in the Spring of 1861, but then, sadly, died of a sudden illness.

Sometimes you a duty to run and lose.  Mitt Romney should think about that.  Taking Utah from Donald Trump, which would be a real possibility if Romney runs, might swing the election.


So, does Bernie have an equal duty to run third party, or is this just about making sure the Democrat wins?

Not in GM's opinion, since he doesn't equate Clinton and Trump. Sanders doesn't either. OTOH, Romney was in the "NeverTrump" camp, not just a strong opponent.

Anyway, I think commentary on Douglas ("scoundrel") confuses the immediate discussion here, but moving past that, how much did Douglas think he was "handing" the election to Lincoln? Or, more reasonably than the Constitutional-Union ticket, that there was a real shot of throwing things to the House where he would be a logical compromise choice?

I think Romney running is somewhat different than Stephen Douglas, especially since Douglas actually was the nominee of the rump DNC at the time. A principled run is something to think about though not sure Romney is exactly an ideal choice. And, the election turning on Utah ... seriously? Heck, I thought Utah was now according to some accounts a swing state because Mormons hate Trump. Are you suggesting perhaps the "favorite son" approach where different people try to take specific states from Trump?

It sounds to me like Hillary is a better analogy to Douglas, having been a scoundrel all her political career. But she's likely to secure the nomination, the Democratic party having grown quite comfortable with scoundrels.

Romney may do as suggested... if he's intent on retiring from politics. Not otherwise.

Trump has been a scoundrel and he is likely to secure the nomination, the Republican Party having grown quite comfortable with scoundrels, even those with no government experience, views that violate basic party principles and so forth are not disqualifying.

I wasn't aware that Romney was interested in returning to politics anyway. And, there are enough Republicans who don't want Trump to win (but can't politically go against their party nominee publicly) that a third party run on principle probably wouldn't lead to his career to be a goner anyhow. Surely not to get political office let's say in a place like Massachusetts.

I'd be interested in your definition of "scoundrel", if Trump qualifies, and Hillary somehow does not.


Brett, of course you think Clinton is a scoundrel. Conservative partisans were sure that Obama, Kerry, Bill Clinton, etc., were scoundrels. Liberal partisans were sure Romney was a scoundrel. The difference is that a rather significant number of conservatives find Trump to be a scoundrel.

I'm not using some special definition here. The whole comment stands no matter how I would apply it to Clinton. Meanwhile, Clinton has experience, she long-term has positions matching that of the party etc. so even if BOTH were scoundrels, one side comes off better.

I'm not fully comfortable with the "partisans" comment -- if "liberal partisans" treated Romney and Trump the exact same way (Brett's "all liberals call all Republicans racist" trope comes to mind), it would be a shame.

"Scoundrel" to me is a strong term and "every person" in the other party waters it down too much. The difference is not just the conservative opposition (that too) but the level of bad involved. Even partisans probably don't think various opposite numbers are "scoundrels." And, some partisans accept "scoundrels" in their own party since they are about platform etc.

But, you notice, I'm not accusing Sanders of being a scoundrel. He doesn't have a history of selling public policy to the highest bidder. I think he's actually very principled as politicians go. Horrible principles, of course, as you can see from what's going on in Venezuela, but principles.

" if "liberal partisans" treated Romney and Trump the exact same way (Brett's "all liberals call all Republicans racist" trope comes to mind), it would be a shame. "


Yes, you are not a total bot though that's a low bar.

Did Lincoln refer to Douglas as a scoundrel in the course of their many public encounters? It's possible but Lincoln derided Douglas quite a bit over the years based on his small size.

By the Bybee [expletives deleted], are Sandy, the progressive Democrat, and Gerard, the uncloseted conservative Republican and Federalist Society member, now working this room in coordination, or as the yin and yang of Balkinization? Each has lauded Hamilton and Gerard now adds Douglass as inspirations for potential modern day heroes. Alas, sometimes a hero is just a grinder. But nourishment is necessary over the next 5+ months. So perhaps Sandy and Gerard will continue to cater their delicious political nourishment, sometimes even tongue in cheek.

I note that Brett now serves full-time shilling for Trump at this Blog.

Ummm... What exactly are the policy differences between the wealthy progressive RINOs, Mitt Romney and Donald Trump?


A third party run by Romney might work; I just found this old chestnut:

"Romney will win election because he is not Barack Obama."


Ah, joe, bless you for that link. It's full of chesnuts like this:


Military procurements are not slush funds and, despite the best efforts of people like you, we won the Iraq war back in 2007.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 1:23 PM

Iraq continues to have a terrorsm problem with al Qaeda, but AQI controls nothing and has no prospect of doing so.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 2:45 PM

The center right electorate still opposes Obama policy, which is why they will fire him on Tuesday.

When you try to swim against a wave, the wave wins every time.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 12:26 PM

It smell's like....victory.

See you at the polls, gentlemen.
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 9:22 AM

there is a 2010 level electoral tsunami coming .
# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 2:28 PM


Those were good times. We got weekly "unskewed" polls from Blankshot and lectures about why the pollsters were getting it wrong.

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Mr. W:

We did indeed defeat AQI back in 2007 despite the best efforts of the Democrats. Unfortunately, the fool you elected as CiC pissed away that victory by withdrawing and allowing AQI reformed as the JV team ISIS to reinvade.

Equally unfortunately, my projection that the voters would learn from their mistake and fire the fool proved to be wrong. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 11:02 PM

There was no one fooling you. It was pretty obvious who was going to win. You made a fool of yourself. It's kinda your thing.

"We did indeed defeat AQI back in 2007"

He writes on the eve of the Third Battle of Fallujah...Yes, defeated indeed. Lol

Gerard: By running for President as a Northern Democrat. He had no hope of winning and essentially handed Lincoln the election by dividing the Democratic vote...

Given Trumps rise and Clinton's fall into a tie in Democrat leaning registered voter polls using historic 2012 demographics which do not at all resemble the real life primary vote, I can see why Democrats would want and very likely need a white knight third party to divide the GOP vote to allow their deeply unpopular dowager queen in waiting to win with a small plurality.

The problems with that scenario are that Hillary! cannot gain a lead even with Romney in the race and such a three way split of the vote could throw the election into the GOP House of Representatives. The Washington Post just polled a three way race with Romney:


BD: "We did indeed defeat AQI back in 2007"

Mr. W: He writes on the eve of the Third Battle of Fallujah...Yes, defeated indeed. Lol

I am attempting to maintain my temper with you.

My family and friends fought and won the Iraq War.

The fool you elected as President withdrew and allowed AQI reformed as ISIS to re-invade Iraq, pissing away all of their sacrifices and enabling the return of a jihadist genocide.

And you are laughing about that catastrophe???

On behalf of those who served, do you know what the letters F O stand for?


"The problems with that scenario are that Hillary! cannot gain a lead even with Romney in the race and such a three way split of the vote could throw the election into the GOP House of Representatives."

But, how does that work out in the Electoral college, which actually dictates the outcome of the election? It's my impression that, in that scenario, Hillary could easily end up with a large majority in the electoral college, due to plurality wins in various states handing her all of those states' electors. (Almost all of the states are winner take all in the electoral college, IIRC.) Romney would be unlikely to actually carry more than one or two states.

Of course, it's rather late for anybody to get on very many state ballots, who isn't the nominee of an already ballot qualified party. I consider it a moot question.

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And you are laughing about that catastrophe???

On behalf of those who served, do you know what the letters F O stand for?

# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 9:44 AM

Actually, he appears to be laughing at your delusional belief that we "won" anything in Iraq. So go fuck yourself.

In this context, (3rd party spoilers) it is perhaps fortunate for Trump that the LP, which will be on the ballot in most, and probably all, states, appears to have decided to tack left. And the Greens, who don't have to tack to be on the left, are also going to be on the ballot in many states.

Both Trump and Hillary have very high negatives, large numbers of voters who absolutely despise them. But it appears to me that only disaffected Democrats will find a congenial third party option on the ballot.

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What "tacks left" means to Brett ... ymmv ... but there are various types of Republican voters so there probably will be some in key swing states (or those that lean Republican -- independents tend to lean one way or the other) that will find the Libertarian Party simpicato given various positions it holds.

OTOH, if you are a conservative, especially one that wants more government in certain conservative areas (e.g., more voting rights limits, more regulation/enforcement against immigrants etc.) perhaps that won't sell well.

The Green and Libertarian Parties are the only ones with presidential candidates nation-wide but it looks like there are other parties in various states. For instance, even if a conservative party (appears there is one) is merely in California, in theory, that could swing an election -- surely, it's more likely to do so than Utah. Also, various states will have independent options or more of a long-shot (but see the senator from Alaska) write-ins.

Personally, I have my doubts that this will matter, even if the Libertarian Party candidate didn't "tack left" (but wouldn't that draw in disgusted Democrats? shrugs) in swinging some state. I won't be shocked if it happens in one state. More likely there will be a somewhat statistical uptick, let's say 5% or something in a place like Alaska. Of course, even 2% would be a lot most places.

"Actually, he appears to be laughing at your delusional belief that we "won" anything in Iraq."

Yup. Well said BB.

bb: "Actually, he appears to be laughing at your delusional belief that we "won" anything in Iraq."

Mr. W: Yup. Well said BB.

In his post Will the US survive?, Sandy mused over what it would take for a popular military to decide to remove an illegitimate civilian government.

Sending the military to war and then denying them the victory they paid for in blood once too often just may do that.

Then get angry at the Bush administration who sent those poor soldiers to a mission doomed to fail.

Mr. W:


We all but destroyed AQI and won the Iraq War back in 2007.

The fool you elected as president used this victory as a pretext to withdraw the military from Iraq as quickly as he could.

This was the equivilent of Truman withdrawing from Germany and Japan in 1946 and hoping the fascists did not take over again.

YOU DEMOCRATS lost Iraq and made the sacrifices of my brothers in arms in vain. Now you have the unmitigated gall to deny their victory ever occurred?

You should be ashamed.


No, this is an acknowledgment that the war the GOP started was from the beginning an unwinnable one. Your party betrayed us all, and in choosing Trump, whose said that, they've shown they agree.

We all but destroyed AQI and won the Iraq War back in 2007.

The fool you elected as president used this victory as a pretext to withdraw the military from Iraq as quickly as he could.

You should be ashamed.

# posted by Blogger Bart DePalma : 12:46 PM

This is delusional nonsense. The fool that YOU elected is the one that negotiated the withdrawal from Iraq. He's also the idiot that created AQ in Iraq. The idea that AQ in Iraq was "destroyed" is absurd. Bribing someone to stop fighting is NOT "destroying" them.


OK, you both have no shame and cannot even see the blood on your hands.

We're not the morons who supported that disaster. You are. It's times like this that I wished I believed in Hell, so that you'd have an appropriate place to burn.

I suppose the next best thing is you having to support trump for president ...

As you convince yourself that Trump isn't so bad, keep in mind that he agrees with us on Iraq.

National Review has a "please run" too. Romney-mentum

Trump won Washington big. Probably has over 1200 delegates. Not there yet!

Lincoln would have won even if all the votes against him had gone to one opponent because he still would have won in the electoral college. Furthermore, Michael Todd Landis' recent "Northern Men With Southern Loyalties" makes a strong case that Buchanan's 1860 campaign hurt Lincoln.

Was "Buchanan" intentional there or was it "Douglas'" campaign?

Anyway, Douglas did hurt Lincoln more than Romney is likely to hurt Clinton but the professor seems to be assuming Douglas figured it still was a lost cause. Not sure how much it was (or he assumed it was) though it might have been near the end.

A few unbound delegates voiced their support of Trump, so he now has 1238, enough to take the "presumptive" off and make him the nominee.

You are not attacking Sanders because you know he has zero chance to becoming the democratic nominee.

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Regarding "The Supreme Court’s Role in our Constitutional Scheme: Why Eight is not Enough," color me cynical, but the conservative institution might just affect the author's [of the op-ed responded to] judgment of the value of a 9th justice likely chosen by a Democrat.

The thing that bothered me was the implication that judicial review was just something that was applied sometime mid-20th Century or something. There were some quite politically divisive issues decided by the federal courts in the early 19th Century, involving the national bank, state power over contracts including an attempt to address what the legislature deemed a fraudulent land scheme etc. In fact, controversial cases involving British debts went back to the 1790s.

There is an argument that ideally that the Supreme Court should be a minimalist institution but let's be honest about the historical nature of judicial review. At the very least, it was actively in place in the federal courts by the turn of the 20th Century. The 14A specifically was going to increase the power of the courts, states now more under federal control. Likewise, as government expands, including as population and the economy does, courts will have more power too.

But, blocking Garland -- who very well might be more minimalist than either candidate's alternative -- is not about that. It is about controlling the courts generally. If we want to change how the Supreme Court does business by having an even number of justices or in some other way, let's be aboveboard about it.

Libertarian Party debate with Gary Johnson and five others was on last night & those interested should be able to find it at CSPAN. The moderator was a black guy but all the candidates were white guys. The audience was more diverse.

I only flicked back and forth but the candidates' answers suggested wide agreement except for a difference in tone. The final question did lead to Gary Johnson to upset the crowd because he accepted the idea of a driver's license in some fashion. There was a question asking if the U.S. correctly entered WWI and WWII -- Johnson simply said "I don't know" and one or two of the others said they didn't know about WWI.

It's nice to have someone simply say that.

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